Head of Egypt's Fine Arts Sector returns to his office

Ati Metwaly, Friday 9 Aug 2013

Dismissed by former culture minister from his post as head of Fine Arts Sector in May 2013, Salah El-Meligy has been reinstated to his office by current minister Mohamed Saber Arab

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Salah El-Meligy in a workshop (Photo: courtesy of the artist)

Culture Minister Mohamed Saber Arab has reinstated Salah El-Meligy as head of the Fine Arts Sector, a body operating under the Ministry of Culture responsible for several art institutions and museums holding numerous visual art related exhibitions and other activities.

El-Meligy was dismissed from the post in May 2013 by the then-Culture Minister, Alaa Abdel-Aziz.

Though the minister did not provide a reason for the sudden dismissal, the decision came right after El-Meligy opened the 35th annual General Art Exhibition at Cairo's Palace of Arts without complying with Abdel-Aziz's requests to remove several works. According to Salah El-Meligy, only the exhibition curators' committee is allowed to make such a decision, not the minister.

Moreover, El-Meligy's dismissal came among a series of firings - including dismissal of Ines Abdel Dayem, head of the Cairo Opera House and Ahmed Megahed, head of the General Book Organization, among others - that Abdel-Aziz executed during his tenure in between 7 May and the end of June when nation-wide demonstrations led to suspension of the whole cabinet to which Abdel-Aziz belonged.

Many visual artists were outraged by El-Meligy's dismissal and joined a series of protests staged by the artists from all art sectors against Abdel-Aziz's policies, accusing him of attempts to 'Brotherhoodise' the ministry. As the protests escalated, the artists stormed the Ministry of Culture on 5 June and sat-in until current Minister of Culture Mohamed Saber Arab came back to the office on 16 July 2013.

A day after the appointment, Saber Arab announced that he would reinstate all the artists dismissed by Abdel-Aziz.

Within the first hours of 17 July, Ines Abdel-Dayem was restored as head of the Cairo Opera House and Sayed Tawfik as chair of the Supreme Council of Culture.

Born in 1957, Salah El-Meligy is a renowned Egyptian artist. Professor at the Graphic Art Department at the Faculty of Arts – with a PhD in graphic arts obtained in 1993 – El-Meligy spent the past two years serving as head of Fine Arts Sector and the Central Administration of Exhibitions and Museums.

Under his management, and despite many budget cuts and operational challenges, El-Meligy managed to reinvigorate over a dozen exhibition halls and long-forgotten museums, including one of the exhibition halls in Alexandria, which had been closed since 1932.

Salah El-Meligy served as head of the Fine Arts sector from May 2011, appointed by the then minister of culture Emad Abo-Ghazi, until he was dismissed in May 2013.

According to the sector's official statement, El-Meligy is turning a new page and plans to infuse the Fine Arts Sector with new energy that will lead to a number of new artistic projects.

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